We are now well into the third year of the Syrian tragedy; and the conflict continues to worsen. Ordinary Syrians are the victims, suffering in massive numbers, in massive ways. One of every three Syrian needs urgent humanitarian assistance. One of every four has been uprooted from her or his home. Thousands of hospitals and schools have been destroyed. The levels and nature of human rights violations continue to shock. Kidnappings and sexual violence are widespread.
Syria is disintegrating before our eyes. The chaos is creating fertile ground for radicalism and increasingly threatens regional stability. Cross-border security incidents have affected Syria’s neighbours. Those countries have been commendably generous and hospitable, but they are reaching their limits in hosting more than 1.5 million refugees. The continuation of the Syrian conflict, and hence the flow of refugees, is destabilizing the entire region, with consequences for international peace and security truly frightening to contemplate.
From the outset of the crisis, I have called for a political solution and warned that a military solution would neither address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people nor stabilize the country. Today I am more convinced than ever that there is no military solution to this war.
Most recently, I welcomed the announcement earlier this month of an effort by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and United States Secretary of State Kerry to bring the Syrian parties to a negotiating table to jointly determine how they would fully implement a political transition and establish a Transitional Governing Body vested with full executive powers, as provided for in the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012. These talks are the best opportunity we have had in nearly a year for a negotiated solution. The challenges ahead are formidable but we cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi is moving ahead in his work to mobilize the international community and all interested parties, first and foremost the Syrian parties. The weeks ahead will be critical and I urge all involved, both within and outside Syria, to cooperate fully with Mr. Brahimi and do their part to support the Syrian delegations in reaching an agreement.
A political transition is the only way to end the violence, save the lives of innocent civilians and pull Syria back from the brink. This conflict has deep political roots and will not be resolved through military means, even if the parties, and some of their supporters, believe so. I am deeply concerned by reports of countries sending arms to either side in Syria, and by the admissions of outside groups that they are participating in fighting inside Syria. This heightens the dangers for Syrians and their neighbors, and I urge all parties to use their influence to help stop the arms flows and persuade outside groups to withdraw fighters from Syria.
The goal should be clear to all: an end to violence at the earliest possible moment, and a transition to a new Syria that protects the rights of all its people and communities, and fulfills the legitimate aspirations of all its citizens for freedom, dignity and justice.
I wish this forum constructive deliberations and hope that your proceedings will help the Syrian people find the path to peace and reconciliation and save their country from destruction. Syria and its people, history and cultures are important not only to Syrians itself and the region, but to all of us. I call on everyone to help the Syrian people find the path to reconciliation, reconstruction and peace.